Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: bettybecca | Filed under: Come Together, Everyone Will Eat It, Our Favorites, Store-bought Remix | 2 Comments »
Where all the magic happens
This has got to be #1 in the Italian Favorites category. Mr. J asks for it often, and I’ve had several people tell me it’s the best lasagna they’ve ever had. It’s super easy too, and you can’t ask for anything more.
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 1/2 t salt
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
12 oz. cottage cheese/ricotta (I usually use the large container, and it’s perfect)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz. lasagna noodles (uncooked)
16 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese
Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic in skillet. Strain out grease, and add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and seasonings. Cook long enough to get warm. Spoon a layer of meat sauce onto the bottom of the crockpot. Add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break to fit), and top with cheeses. Repeat with sauce, noodles, and cheeses until all are used up. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serves 10.
Our crockpot is a medium oval one, so it doesn’t take as many noodles as are called for to make one batch, and it only takes 3-4 hours on low to be fully cooked. It says to double stack the noodles, but you have to be careful or they won’t get fully cooked if they’re too thick. Alternatively, you can add a layer of noodles between each layer (after cheese AND sauce).
You’ll have to experiment to get the right amounts of each ingredient per layer. The first time I made it I think I ran out of a few things toward the top. Now, I use each ingredient kinda sparingly and get 4 complete layers and end on meat sauce. Try to end with sauce on top for best results. The cheese doesn’t do well on top for that long. You can add some at the end, if you want.
Sauce in the works
Posted: February 1st, 2011 | Author: bettybecca | Filed under: Everyone Will Eat It, On the Basics | No Comments »
Creamy Chicken Pasta
This is what I ate for dinner last tonight. I whipped it up Sunday during one of my token weekend cooking frenzies. And I realized yesterday afternoon that I left out a very key ingredient (better late than never?).
It’s Creamy Chicken Pasta inspired by Creamy Chicken & Noodles by Plain Chicken. This blog is great for the picky eater set out there, and I’ve found a few new things for Mr. J by following.
Contrary to the name, this is very similar to chicken alfredo, just with a slightly different format. Ok, start boiling some noodles. I used rotini because I didn’t have enough egg noodles like Steph calls for. I had some cooked chicken ready to go, but if you don’t add some butter to a skillet and cook up about three breasts (checking for doneness with a thermometer at 165 degrees). Or bake some (Hi, Amanda W!) by putting a little butter or olive oil in a glass baking dish (I use Pyrex) with the chicken on top with some S&P, and let it hang out at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. My chicken was delicious smoked chicken that the hubs prepared on New Year’s Day. It’s been in the freezer, and this was the perfect occasion. I thawed it in the fridge overnight, and it was perfect and ready to be chopped.
When the noodles are done, strain out the cooking water; toss with the butter; and add a can of evaporated milk, the parsley, and Parm. Then, think to yourself, this needs some seasoning (uh…duh…that’s because you left out the Italian dressing mix), so I add some garlic, of course, and some S&P. I also topped with a little Italian blend cheese.
This is a good time to point out that I usually run through the ingredients list several times while I’m cooking to make sure I haven’t left anything out. It’s a great checks and balances system because, trust me, I’ve done this a lot. Sometimes, recipes are printed wrong, and you can figure it out if you’re checking both the ingredient list and the directions. It’s a good practice to read through an entire recipe before you start to make sure you have everything you need (pots and pans and preheated ovens included). If I had used the seasoning packet, my dish would have beautiful colorful specks of flavor, but I was doing 800 other things.
Another thing I’ve learned is that it is very hard to over-season. You don’t want to over-season because it’s hard to come back from that, but if you taste along the way, don’t be afraid to put in a little more than you think it needs. Just remember that some flavors develop over time. Confused yet? If you’re not great at seasoning, it will come with time. Follow the recipe for now, and learn what your palate likes. You’ll discover what spices and flavors marry well together, and you’ll be a master in no time.
Back to this recipe…it was quite tasty, but I’ll have to try it again with my lonely packet of Italian dressing mix. It is a super fast recipe for weeknights if your chicken is ready to go (or even if it’s not). If you can plan ahead and cook the chicken on the weekend, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together for a great meal after work. Hope you enjoy!
1 (0.6-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix
1 (8-oz.) package wide egg noodles
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup whipping cream or evaporated milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Directions from Plain Chicken:
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain well, and return noodles to pan.
Stir in 2 Tbsp. butter, and toss to coat. Stir in chopped chicken, next 3 ingredients, and dressing mix. Cook mixture over medium-high heat, tossing to coat evenly, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.
Betty Becca note: My can of evaporated milk was 12 oz., and I used 12 oz. of rotini. Steph calls for 8 oz. (1 cup) of evaporated milk and 8 oz. of egg noodles. I was able to keep the same ratio of sauce to noodles (1 : 1) and not waste any evaporated milk. Also, I can’t use whipping cream because of an allergy.
Posted: January 30th, 2011 | Author: bettybecca | Filed under: Everyone Will Eat It | Tags: Chicken, Crockpot | 2 Comments »
Vanna White - Wheel of Fortune *Image from Google Image search
Today I have a recipe to share from Vanna White.
One time as she and Pat were chatting at the end of the show just before the credits, she mentioned this recipe. It incorporates one of Mr. J’s favorite ingredients: BBQ sauce. And chicken. Yep, there are only two ingredients, plus a crockpot and a little time.
Side note: Mr. J loves this show. I think I got my fill of it staying with my elderly neighbors as a kid. After that, we moved to the country and didn’t have a lot to choose from on TV. We could always count on Wheel to come in clearly after dinner (yes, we ate really early). I still enjoy watching it for the puzzles, but I don’t go seeking it out.
I have this going in the crockpot today to use as a meal component for this coming week. I usually do crockpot things on Sunday since I have the time. I start by putting a little BBQ sauce in to coat the bottom. Mr. J’s favorite kind is Kraft Original.
Side note 2: I think everyone has at least one condiment obsession. Mr. J’s is BBQ sauce. I heard this about him before I even started dating him (back in the Stone Ages). Mine is mayo. I love it. My co-worker Rachel adores ketchup, and my grade school friend Whitney could eat mustard from the little packages in the cafeteria. It’s just not right until the level of excess with your condiment of choice grosses everyone else out.
Vanna's BBQ Chicken
For this, I used Perdue chicken breast tenderloins straight out of the package. If you’ve read my profile, you know how I am about meat, so whenever I don’t have to get up-close-and-personal with it, I’m happy. Add a little more BBQ sauce and stir to coat. There really aren’t any measurements. You just want to make sure that there is a good chicken to sauce ratio. Mathematically, that looks like this Chicken : Sauce. Cook on low for about 2-3 hours or until a thermometer gives an internal reading of 165 degrees. You’ll want to stir it every hour or so. I tried to do this overnight once, and I learned that you can, in fact, burn something in a crockpot. It’s best to keep an eye and nose on it. When it’s done, you can shred it with a fork or leave the tenderloins whole. Serve atop white rice with a veggie or two.
Props to our friends Jen and Juice for the mini crockpot. It has a toilet costume, but that’s for another day.
*Full disclosure: I only mention brand names here so that you’ll know what I used for this recipe. Perdue and Kraft have nothing to do with this, and it is in no way sponsored content.